Monday, May 05, 2014

Monday Poetry Stretch - Diminishing Rhyme

I am still working my way through The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach, jotting ideas in one of the many journals I have tucked away. This week I want to try an exercise from this book entitled Emotion/Motion/Ocean/Shun. Here's what Susan Mitchell writes:
If you read the title of this exercise aloud, you will hear a quadruple rhyme. But if you examine the words themselves, you will notice that there is something special about this rhyme scheme. The sound shun is contained in ocean, the sounds of both shun and ocean in motion, and shunocean and motion can all be folded into emotion. Such a rhyme scheme, which incidentally was favored by the seventeenth-century poet George Herbert, is called diminishing rhyme because the rhyme words get smaller as you move from emotion to shun. But I prefer the term nesting rhymes because the words nest one inside the other like Russian wooden dolls.
Here is an example of this form from the George Herbert poem "Paradise".
I bless Thee, Lord, because I grow
Among the trees, which in a row
To Thee both fruit and order ow 
Read the poem in its entirety
So, that's it. Your challenge is to write a poem that uses diminishing rhyme. Won't you join us? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.


  1. This sounds like a fun exercise. I think I will try it. Thanks for the lesson.

  2. Oh, I adore George Herbert. Also, 17th c spelling...

    1. This is terrible, and the iambs aren't right at all, but this is just whipped off the top of my head, based on what I've been thinking about:

      Dear BookCon
      Today I write to BookCon, Inc., to note peculiarity -
      Authors, lined up for their gig, trend toward similarity!
      When in books our "common core" underscores diversity
      Then our melting pot achieves: finally, a parity.

    2. All About Spring

      Whenever greening lights the start,
      Whenever days are soft, nights tart,
      And nature paints with constant art. . .

      Wherever flowers choose to grow
      Though never in a measured row,
      But only to abundance ow. . .

      Whenever birdsong hits the charts,
      When leaps up stags and hinds and harts,
      When meadows hang their public arts. . .

      Then welcome Spring upon your plate.
      Do not complain the meal is late,
      Think eat, eaten, and lastly, ate

      It’s spring!

      ©2014 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

    3. This is my favorite part.

      Then welcome Spring upon your plate./ Do not complain the meal is late,

      I surely have been complaining this year, but I've never been chastised so beautifully before!

      Thanks for playing, Jane!

    4. Tanita,
      Your BookCon poem is filled with all the emotion that surrounds the controversy. Who cares if the poem doesn't work in the way you hoped? It hits at the heart of the matter perfectly. (And it's not terrible!)

  3. That was… hard. Here's what I came up with:


    It’s midnight, and I find I strain
    to hear the tramping of the train
    that’s passing dayward in the rain.

    Its path is strong, its path is straight.
    It rumbles, thunders with the trait
    of moving at a rapid rate—

    But even storm clouds have to steer
    and toss each raindrop like a tear—
    till train’s a storm in every ear.

    —Kate Coombs, 2014
    all rights reserved

    1. Read this with William this morning and he (my 13 year old who still loves trains) loved it. I echo his sentiments!

    2. Thanks, Tricia and William! At work I'm writing the text for an app about the Transcontinental Railroad. (We do history textbooks and apps.) It's an amazing story!

  4. I love the idea of nesting doll rhymes! Kate's final line--amazing. And Jane's: When meadows hang their public arts. . . Will try one of these this week and report back!

  5. Huh, this is short and rough, but I'm reading Jim Murphy's INVINCIBLE MICROBE, and here's what came out.


    In cramped apartments, dark and stale
    The microbe spins its deadly tale
    One by one, the children ail

    Hope to try another one tomorrow. Thanks, Tricia!

  6. And here's today's. This is kind of fun. Mine have no subtlety whatsoever, though!

    Trimming bangs: I’m here to demonstrate
    the simple trick for snipping nice and straight.


    Well, even bangs are an over-rated trait.
    Um … I’ll just charge you half my normal rate!

    Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

    Hunched over a milk create alone
    Exterior hard as a stone
    My memories are all I own.

    (c) Charles Waters 2014 all rights reserved.